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Friday 28th October 2016

First steps toward new TB drug

20th April 2010

Scientists in India have received the first results from an online project that aims to help people develop a new tuberculosis drug.


The project used online collaboration to amass disparate genetic information on the strains of bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB).

The main goal of the project is to identify molecules that may be useful in fighting the disease.

The project, known as Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD), aims to offer new ways of finding drugs that can treat diseases in third-world countries.

The new results are part of a sub-project called 'Connect to Decode' or C2D, in which five private companies teamed up with research students aiming to pool all of the available genetic and biological information about TB.

In the process, the collaborators identified the various proteins that the tuberculosis genome encodes.

The collaborators will soon make all of their results available for download via a shared database website.

Samir Brahmachari, director-general of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said that this was the first time that scientists had made a comprehensive mapping of the tuberculosis genome.

He said that all of the information, including critical data unlocking previously undiscovered details of tuberculosis, had been compiled, verified and made publicly available.

Details on the molecule that the project identified, which could form the basis for an innovative TB treatment, has been sent to Jubilant Chemsys, an Indian pharmaceutical company, where it will be developed.

Jubilant Chemsys, was one of the five pharmaceutical companies to take part in the collaborative research effort, along with TCG Lifesciences, Sugen Life Sciences, PREMAS Biotech and Vimta Labs.

Leena Menghaney, programme officer at the Indian branch of international medical and humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières, said that Indian scientists were looking for a solution that would make research into drugs for neglected diseases possible, without increasing expenses for patients and governments.

Brahmachari said that companies tended to seek money, and that the Indian governmental effort respected this by giving them contracts on the condition that the fruits of their research remained copyright-free.

By following in the footsteps of open-source computer software, the research team hopes that the results of their collaborative research will be useful to the world's poorest countries.

About 1.7 million people die from TB around the world every year, and 20% of those people live in India.

Brahmachari said that the scientists involved in the OSDD project worked with over 100 students from several universities in order to deliver results within only a few months.

He said that anyone in the world was welcome to join OSDD's efforts, which uses a unique design for updating and modifying gene maps as new data emerges, as virtually no new TB drugs had been developed since the 1960s.


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